Undaunted by the recent Montecito fire-and-mudslide tragedy, the 33rd Santa Barbara International Film Festival (1.31 to 2.10) will proceed apace. Never say die, and never forget that exec director Roger “Nick the Greek” Durling is regarded as a Dunninger-like seer in the annual Oscar race. Nobody’s perfect, but his tributes are often accurate predictors.
And yet Roger is hedging his bets in the Best Supporting Actor category by giving The Florida Project‘s Willem Dafoe and Three Billboards‘ Sam Rockwell their own separate tributes — a Cinema Vanguard Award for Dafoe on Thursday, 2.1, and an American Riviera Award for Rockwell on Wednesday, 2.7.
I’m not saying that Durling foresaw that Best Actor contender Timothee Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name) would seriously hurt his chances of winning by throwing Woody Allen under the bus a couple of days ago, but Durling’s instinct to give Darkest Hour‘s Gary Oldman the festival’s Maltin Modern Master Award on Friday, 2.2 was a smart one.
The Virtuosos Award, being presented on Saturday, 2.3, will go to Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Hong Chau (Downsizing), John Boyega (Detroit), Kumail Nanjiani (The Big Sick), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound) and — yes! — Timothée Chalamet (Call Me by Your Name).
Lady Bird‘s Saoirse Ronan will receive the Santa Barbara Award on Sunday, 2.4.
Hollywood Elsewhere arose at 5 am, left for Burbank Airport at 5:55 am, the Southwest flight left at 8:06 am and I was in Salt Lake City airport by…I forget, 10:45 am or something. $40 shuttle to Park Regency. Not much snow on the ground, but a storm is coming. Met flatmates Jordan Ruimy and Ed Douglas, and walked over to the Park City Marriott for press passes. I then sat down in the Marriott lobby and filed the story about Indiewire’s “Woody Allen is dead” piece. Update: It’s now 1:27 pm. Heading back to condo to unpack, maybe nap for an hour, then hit Fresh Market for foodstuffs.
Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn, Kate Erbland, David Ehrlich and Jude Dry have posted a piece that basically says “we don’t know if we believe Dylan or Moses Farrow…well, we’re mostly on Dylan’s side because we want to be with Greta and Timothee and the other cool kidz…but whatever the truth may be, we’re mainly interested in announcing that Woody Allen‘s career is almost definitely at an end. But why did this take so long?”
HE to Kohn, et.al.: “So your response to the obviously debatable if not disreputable Woody hoo-hah is to run a POST-MORTEM about the end of his career because the jackals are circling? Because Timothee Chalamet was pressured into folding his hand by his agent and publicist? Ballsy move, guys. Incisive journalism. Have you read the Robert Weide piece that responded to the Farrow essay?
“If you’re so certain that Allen is suddenly MORE GUILTY THAN EVER BEFORE because of Dylan Farrow’s L.A. Times piece, why don’t you stand up LIKE MEN and post an essay titled ‘MOSES FARROW IS FULL OF SHIT’?”
Kohn replies: “The piece is an honest assessment of the last few weeks. So many actors are distancing themselves from Allen and the actions of his recent cast speak for themselves. I love many Allen films; that’s not the point here. He has been rendered commercial anathema and it’s obvious that very few actors will work with him now.”
HE retort: “There are many actors of character (Alec Baldwin for one) who will stay with Allen. There is also the option of European financing. Allen might fold his cards, yes, but if I were Allen I would commit to making films forever and ever until he dies, if for no other reason than to deliver a hearty ‘fuck you’ to you, due respect, and David Ehrlich and the rest of the Indiewire team for declaring that he’s over & done with.
“And WHAT ABOUT MOSES FARROW? Is he a liar? If you believe that, fine, but please explain your reasons for thinking so.
“Yeah, I didn’t think so.”
Kohn replies: “Again, the piece is an analysis of the commercial situation surrounding his career, not an argument for or against allegations against him. Easy, tiger.”
My response: “But the commercial situation surrounding his career has been triggered by the conflating of #MeToo and Dylan Farrow’s L.A. Times essay, and a general non-analytical presumption that he molested his daughter. If you’re not saying that Dylan is truth-ing and Moses is lying, then who are you? I happen to believe Moses, but that’s me. In any case all you guys are saying is ‘uhm, yeah, whatever but his career is probably over.’ You’re sitting on the sidelines, and that ain’t much.”
Read the Weide, read the Weide, read the Weide.
Congrats to Criterion for releasing a new 4K digitally restored Bluray of Leo McCarey‘s The Awful Truth (’37), a classic screwball comedy about wealthy urbanites Jerry and Lucy Warriner (Cary Grant, Irene Dunne) attempting a divorce but failing to follow through. But Grant’s top hat on the jacket cover is like something out of the 19th Century, and it really spoils the art. I saw it and I scowled.
Unless I’m greatly mistaken Grant never even wears a top hat in The Awful Truth, although he does wear one in a nightclub scene in Bringing Up Baby. Secondly, the hat Grant is wearing on the Criterion jacket cover is way too tall — it looks like Abraham Lincoln‘s famous stovepipe. Stylish top hats of the 1930s were more modestly scaled, as an after-the-jump photo of Grant makes clear.
Screwball aficionados know that in The Awful Truth Grant’s character made light, sophisticated fun of Ralph Bellamy‘s Oklahoma Dan Leesen, Lucy’s new suitor, in exactly the same way that Grant’s Walter Burns would gently mock Bellamy’s Bruce Baldwin, another country bumpkin, in His Girl Friday three years later.
Senator Corey Booker‘s tongue-lashing of U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen earlier today was a humdinger. Nielsen worked for John F. Kelly during his term as Secretary of Homeland Security (January to July 2017), and then as Principal Deputy White House Chief of Staff to President Donald Trump (September to December 2017). It’s not sexist to note that Nielsen fits that Nordic ice-blonde quality that Republicans and Trump administration appointees often seem to cultivate or favor in terms of hires. Fox News management also seems to favor women who fit this profile.
If I were going to be in Los Angeles tomorrow evening I’d be attending “Focus on Female Directors 2018” at the American Cinematheque Egyptian. The shorts will include Robin Wright’s The Dark of Night, Svetlana Cvetko’s Yours Sincerely, Lois Weber, Autumn de Wilde’s I Love L.A.”, Marie Dvorakova’s Who’s Who in Mycology, etc. There in spirit.
I have to stop filing for a while, mainly because I have to pack and prepare for tomorrow morning’s very early departure for Salt Lake City and the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. I should be in Park City by 12:30 or 1 pm. A day of checking in, preparing, thinking things through, etc. I might post a rundown of the films that I feel are completely necessary to see (Wild Life, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Marina Zenovich‘s Robin Williams doc, etc.), but it’s all a big crazy salad. All catch-as-catch-can. You see everything you can and find your way through it film by film, and you stay the hell away from 90% of the parties.
Three weeks ago I was half-agreeing with Tucker Carlson about the outraged reactions to Matt Damon’s mansplaining remarks (“spectrum of behavior”, “shouldn’t conflate”) in a televised chat with Peter Travers.
“There’s not a single sentiment in [what Damon said to Travers] that’s not defensible or that 90 percent of the American population would find over the top or outrageous,” Carlson said. “It’s all within bounds or it would have been last year.”
But the blowback was pretty bad, and Damon is only human.
During an interview this morning on the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford, Damon apologized and pleaded for forgiveness for having the temerity to share what he thought. The gist of Damon’s earlier comments were that (a) there are some really bad guys out there (i.e., Harvey Weinstein) as well as (b) some mildly shitty guys, (c) some flawed but not-so-bad guys (Sen. Al Franken) as well as (d) regular guys who’ve never pawed or assaulted anyone and are okay to have around. But that category (a) shouldn’t be conflated with categories (c) and (d).
“I really wish I’d listened a lot more before I weighed in on this,” Damon told Gifford. “Ultimately, what it is for me is that I don’t want to further anybody’s pain with anything that I do or say. And so for that I’m really sorry. A lot of those women are my dear friends and I love them and respect them and support what they’re doing and want to be a part of that change. But I should get in the back seat and close my mouth for a while.”
Morgan Neville‘s Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a doc about the life and legacy of Fred Rogers, will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. An ordained Presbyterian minister before becoming a children’s TV star, Rogers was everyone’s idea of a gentle, kindly, compassionate fellow. Rogers passed in ’03, but he was the personification of everything Donald Trump never was, isn’t today and never will be. I love guys like Fred Rogers, and he was also something of a progressive, forward-thinking lefty, which makes me admire his memory all the more. And I’m a longtime admirer of Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal, Keith Richards: Under the Influence). But I can’t honestly say that Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is at the top of my Sundance gotta-see list. I’m just being honest.
I don’t always catch trending YouTube clips, but this is the most persuasive argument for Gary Oldman winning the Best Actor Oscar that I’ve seen since award season began. I admired his performance as Winston Churchill as far as it went, but except for the London Underground scene + the House of Lords finale I didn’t really “like” it. But I like James Brown. Has Oldman said anything about the Woody Allen situation, or is he steering clear?
What is Alec Baldwin‘s problem? Doesn’t he understand which way the winds are blowing? The Time’s Up kangaroo court (Greta Gerwig, Mira Sorvino, Rebecca Hall, Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon) has thrown Allen over the side and Baldwin tosses him a life preserver? Does Baldwin want to work in this industry or not?
Seriously, Baldwin is almost Edward R. Murrow talking back to Sen. Joseph McCarthy right now. Almost.
Did the blood drain from Timothee Chalamet‘s face the instant he read Baldwin’s tweet? Did the Call Me By Your Name star and likely Best Actor nominee run out of the room and into the traffic-congested street like Kevin McCarthy at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers? Has he been telling friends “I didn’t know what to say or do! My agent told me to do it! I just want to be nominated and have a great career, and I didn’t want the Time’s Up gang to be mad at me…can you blame me?”
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